My girlfriend has burned out helping me with my mom.

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After a year, she says it's either my mom or her. I can't abandon my mom, and my other half is a good person, but she has burned out, even before I have. This really stinks. I am not going to put my mom into a home until it reaches a point where I can't handle it anymore, but it means giving up my own life. And she has given me a choice. My mom or her.

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Jeanne, that sounds like something I said -- to give up would be to fail -- in my response to one of Steve's messages. It may be something Steve has said along the line, too. I don't know. I'll take your advice for Steve to heart, because the last 9.5 years has given you a lot of wisdom. Your advice is usually right on target.

While being honest here -- Steve, drinking too much is not okay. Caregivers need to be sober. I know around this house I have emergencies quite often. A good example is the other night my mother went hypoglycemic and fell over a table. I was able to get her sugar back up very quickly and all was well. What would have happened if I had been intoxicated and slept through it? She could have gone into coma and died. Caregivers do not have the luxury of getting drunk. One or two drinks, okay. More, not okay unless you have someone around who is sober.
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OK Steve, in the spirit of your own posts, I'm going to tell it like I see it. It isn't pretty.

I think your girlfriend was right. I think it was time for you to make a choice. And I think you made the wrong choice. In another thread I read that your mother wasn't even a good parent. You are doing this to prove something, or because giving up would be failure or it is some kind of ego thing. I don't remember exactly your wording but I do remember thinking "Huh? This is why he gave up his chance of happiness with a woman he loved? This is the reason he lives his life in such a way that he wants to drink himself to death? Has he got a martyr complex or what?"

I cared for my husband for nine-and-a-half years after his dementia diagnosis. It was exhausting. It was heartbreaking. It was stressful. But I did it out of love, knowing full well that if the situation were reversed he would do his best to care for me. I got help when I needed it. I tried to maintain at least some aspects of my own life. I worked from home full time. And I was always exhausted.

Would I have done any of that to prove a point? To show I could do it? To see it through because I had started it? OMG No, no no!

What you are doing does not seem healthy to me. I would never advocate abandoning a parent, even a parent who was abusive, but it is not always best or healthy to take on the hands-on day-to-day 24/7 care of a parent who neglected or abused you in the past and who does not appreciate you now.


Sorry, Steve, but that is how I see it.
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I am sorry...You are a good man. If and when you ever decide to move her, it will be your decision. Actually, I think your gf is wrong. A man taking care of his mother is a HUGE character plus. She is lucky to have you.
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What does your girlfriend suggest? Let's discuss. Maybe her idea is better than drinking yourself to death. I think you are probably more burned out than she is, but she is detached enough or healthy enough to realize it. She may be trying to help and not abandoning you at all. Tell us what she advises...
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Dunwoody, what a perfect statement to describe Alz! I'm so sad today reading all the stories of caregivers sacrificing everything in life to care for their loved ones. In the end, it doesn't really matter to our parents because they're incapable of caring about anything. I think it's the kindness shown that matters...to us. And even if it ends with us, it did matter to someone. What concerns me is when it comes our turn to be cared for, would we want our kids to be put in the same shoes we are/were/will be in?
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You are right, Dunwoody. No matter what we do, our loved ones are going to die. Whether they go into a care center first or not, they are going to die. And we are going to die. There is nothing anyone can do to prevent eventual death.

But I think you are wrong to assume that nothing we do while they are alive matters. Even if they don't remember our kindness, they experience it while it is happening. And it matters to us. Obviously your mother's care matters very much to you.

What is the point of being nice to anyone, ever? They are all going to die. And we are too. What we do while we are living matters, in my belief system at least.

You are right that Alzheimer's (and every other form of dementia) is a fiendish disease and it is as full of torment for loved ones as it is for the person who has it.

Thanks for staying in touch. We care.
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Dunwoody - you're so right in the sense that it eventually winds up that it didn't matter "to them" because they will soon forget/not care/whatever - but you have to be able to live with yourself and your decisions. If your mother is coming between you and your girlfriend, then MAYBE it's time to think of assisted living for Alz/dementia care? We had to do that with my mother-in-law because it was getting to that point you described - she didn't really care that we were practically killing ourselves to give her a good life and no other siblings would help out. So we had to think of ourselves, and moved her to an assisted living center. Yes, it's expensive - but so is our sanity! And yes, she would rather be living with us, but we know she's being taken care of - and that's what was important. So now we can go see her once a week and put up with her craziness without going crazy ourselves. Trust me, I tried the bottle too just to deal with it all. It numbs it for a while, but then just winds up adding to my guilt. Give other living arrangements a thought. And if your mother was in her right mind, she wouldn't want you suffering this way. You're worth it - girlfriend or not.
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Thanks for all your support and concern. If Satan were to create the 'perfect disease' to torture mankind, it would be Alzheimer's. And the sad thing is that for all the pain and suffering we go through as caregivers, in the end it doesn't matter. Our parents either die or go into a nursing home and then we look back on the years we bled for them and probably say to ourselves, "what was the point.?" In the end, it didn't really matter -- to them.
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I, along with TouchedByAngel took care of my mom for a few years because my sister had chosen to put her in a rest home, which isn't my place to judge. I just couldn't sit still and let that stand, that lady helped me all my life. I'm not saying it was easy, it wasn't, and I am sure you feel torn between your love for her and being exhausted much of the time. I wasn't sure if I was going to make it. After it is all said and done it took a lot out of my wife and I and I commend you for what you are doing. I don't want this to sound judgemental but drinking will only make it harder. Eventually, after 7 years in dialysis my mom began thinking about stopping a couple of times and I didn't want that. But one morning she called me into her room and said I'm not going to dialysis. I said "we'll go Friday". She said "no son, I'm not going anymore, I'm going home". If I had not seen the kind of faith she showed to me, it would have been much harder. But that was my mom. Thankfully, my wife was a lot of help but we'd be lying if we said it was easy. The experience wasn't pleasant, but we grew together, if I had hidden in a bottle my wife probably would have grown weary too, but I also have a lot faith. When things get at their worst try this. Relax somewhere, understand God knows what he's doing and recite this verse to yourself " I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able, to keep that which I've committed unto Him against that day". It helped give me the strength I needed. Good luck, TouchedbyAngel's Lucky Husband
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I've taken care of 3 special needs siblings & my Mom 89 for a long time, it does get to me every once in a while but just taking an hour alone to myself helps me I guess because that's how I grew up. When you walk into a situation such as yours especially if you've never been a caregiver before it changes your whole life. I don't think your girlfriend really realized that & I would imagine you either, don't be hard on yourself or her, I can only imagine that caring for someone with dementia is very difficult and no doubt your Moms illness is going to get worse. Home health nurses are a big help it gives you somewhat of a break a couple times a week.Just remember if its hard on ya'll now its going to get a lot harder the worse Mom's dementia gets. Only you can decide what's best not just for Mom but for you also and one thing I do know no matter what you decide, drinking won't help at all it just makes it harder. TouchedbyAngel
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